The Wild Drive Life: Part I
I first met Ben and Meagan Poirier in the spring of 2017 - a little over a year ago.
They were the subjects one of my last stories before I was phased out as a reporter for Mainely Media and phased in as a freelance photographer. They were about to participate in Trek Across Maine, a three-day cycling event that supports the American Lung Association, and I had to do a feature story on them. The event was to be a big deal for both of them, but especially Meagan, who has dueled with a chronic lung condition that has curtailed her adventurous aspirations - and even basic exercise.
"She was diagnosed at 16," the story read, "with bronchiectasis, a rare chronic lung condition where the walls of the bronchi are thickened from inflammation and infection, according to the American Lung Association. People with the condition have periodic flare-ups of breathing difficulties. Although diagnosed at 16, she was born with the condition, which has damaged 25 percent of her lung tissue and left her with a 75 percent lung capacity."
Meagan went on to surmount her condition via diet and exercise, and the couple indeed went on to participate in the Trek Across Maine because it "supports an organization and mission that’s close to my heart – and my lungs,” she said.
But it seems the "bigger" story revolving the Poiriers - or at least the story that would go on to garner significant attention and achieve greater reach - was something outside Trek, and something my article on them never even touched on. In fact, the word "bus" was never even mentioned. They had just purchased a former prisoner bus in Massachusetts, and they were renovating it into their home.
"We bought it in February 2016 from an eccentric mechanic/collector/builder from Massachusetts," Meagan said in an article on the "Chronicle" page of Roadtrippers.com. "He planned to convert the bus himself but when he brought it home to his wife, she said he had WAY too many projects going already."
Since then, they've completely modified the bus, practically eviscerating it from the inside-out, and after much toil and time they've finally got it on the road - and made it their home. While the Into The Wild wanderer Christopher McCandless was more of a "leather tramp" - or one who travels and explores by foot - the Poiriers are effectively "rubber tramps" - they live in, travel, explore (and work) in their converted bus. (Their hippie-ish-ness proves evident on the bottoms of Meagan's feet in the header of this article, and in the image below.)
Even though Meagan has worked in marketing for Old Orchard Beach Chamber of Commerce for years - and thus knows how to market - the Poiriers probably had no idea that this totally revamped lifestyle change would also attract high-profile social media handles, as well as an illustrious Maine-based magazine, Downeast. They'd also go on to garner nearly 15,000 Instagram followers under their handle, @wilddrivelife, on which Meagan posts pictures of their bus's interior, describes her and her husband's (and dog, Moose's) livelihoods in their mobile "tiny home," and offers financial and life advice.
Of course they'd garner attention if they put themselves out there because of all the splendor and romanticism that comes with the territory, but it's also because this rather unique and unconventional livelihood arouses curiosity and begs the questions: How'd they bring it to life? Do they earn a living on the road? What about cooking, showering and water usage? And of course...What about that whole potty business?
Be sure to check out the next few posts - coming soon! - to get an inside peek of the @WildDriveLife bus, and discover how they brought it into fruition!